May I Make A Suggestion?

Happy New Year! Have you made any resolutions yet? If not, may I make a few suggestions? There are some phrases I hear often in my clinics which I would really rather never hear again (although I’m going to!) and I thought I would share them with you so you know why they irk me and you can make a resolution never to say them!

He’s limping but he’s not in any pain

This one is my biggest bugbear in practice. If clients say this to me I smile politely but really I want to say ‘Well why else would he be lame?!’. The problem is that our pets don’t display pain as we do and will continue to act fairly normally even if they are very sore. This is why you can feel all over the lame leg and they will rarely even wince. In fact, it is often only when they break something that even us vets can find any discomfort, our pets are much braver than us! If any animal is lame, they are sore; whether it is a cat who has been scrapping and developed an abscess or an elderly dog who has been stiffening up for while, and must be brought to the vet (and don’t tell us the problem isn’t pain!)

But she hardly eats anything…..

No, in comparison to you, a person probably 10 times her size she doesn’t but for a little animal she must, otherwise she wouldn’t have a head that looks several size to small for her body! (Another statement I would like to say but have to dress it up in a slightly more polite way!) Small dogs and cats only need small amounts of food to keep them going, often only 50-100g of dry food a day, which can look measly in a food bowl. Also, often they are not particularly food orientated and soon learn that if they leave the biscuits in the bowl (which isn’t a hardship because they aren’t hungry anyway), it will soon be replaced with something much tastier from the fridge (sound familiar?!). The best thing to do is to pick a good quality dry food that you know provides all the nutrition they need, ensure they eat a measured amount every day and stop worrying about them!

Oh, he never goes off the lead

I know it can be difficult to give a dog decent off the lead exercise but it is vital. All dogs can be taught reasonable recall and good dog to dog behaviour but for some it is more challenging than others. Don’t resign yourself to never being able to let your dog run, it is no fun walking a dog who is exploding with energy and often they are quite badly behaved because they are so frustrated, get some professional advice. It can seem embarrassing to have to ask for help for something which many dog owners take for granted but a bit of time and investment can make a huge difference to you and your pets and mean walking them is a pleasure, not a chore.

But she’s so old now, is it worth it?

How would you feel if someone refused treatment for you for a painful or debilitating condition just because you were old? Would you be pleased you weren’t ‘going to be messed with’ or would you prefer to undergo a procedure that would allow you to live a much more comfortable life for the time you have left? Exactly, so why is it any different with our pets?

One of the most common problem I see in elderly animals is dental disease. Not only is it very painful but the infections in the tooth roots can be very damaging to other organs. Unfortunately, they aren’t good at showing they are sore and they are left to suffer in silence. Their quality of life can be massively improved by surgery but it can be difficult to persuade their owners to go ahead. Other diseases which can be very effectively controlled include Kidney Failure, Arthritisand Diabetes, all with very little intervention. Our older pets have given us years of companionship and loyalty, the least we can do is keep them comfortable and pain free.

This is just a small selection of the things clients say to be that make me roll my eyes, (others include ‘He doesn’t eat dog food’, ‘She’s not fat, she’s just big boned’, ‘Oh, you can’t touch his face/ears/paws, he doesn’t like it’) I am sure all professions have their versions (and I have probably said them!) but there is an important message here which I hope you understand! I hope you and your families all have a happy 2013!

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